Just about a year ago, Kent Jones was living out of Cool & Dre's lavish North Miami studio when he dropped his Tours mixtape, which features the single "Don't Mind." A lot has changed in twelve months.
As Jones crisscrossed the country, performing "Don't Mind" at major shows like opening night of Beyoncé's Formation tour in Miami, his self-produced single marched up the charts. The phenomenon started with singers like Monica and Eric Bellinger posting their own versions online. Then, after creeping past major records like Drake's "Controlla" and Beyoncé's "Sorry," Jones' song broke through to the Top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. It recently hit No. 4 overall and then reached No. 1 on Billboard's "Rhythmic Songs" chart, dominating hits like Desiigner's "Panda" and Rihanna's "Needed Me."
Cool & Dre and DJ Khaled, who helped lead Jones to stardom, popped bottles of champagne on Instagram to celebrate that chart-topping moment. But Jones says he wants time to reflect on his rapid-fire accomplishments and his long-term goals before he takes a victory lap.
"I was really excited because I know it doesn't end here," Jones says. "I know this is not the end. This is the very beginning of the beginning. I could celebrate, but I'm so focused because I got so many goals I want to reach. I got other No. 1's I want to get."
That's not to say he didn't party when "Don't Mind" hit No. 1, of course. "As far as a real celebration, I believe I got drunk," he says.
Jones, who is 23, was born and raised in Tallahassee before he moved south to the Magic City and got his foot in the door of the music business as a producer. Jones worked with Cool & Dre under their Epidemic Records imprint as well as their A&R division, Patrick Joint. Eventually, Jones branched out and began to craft his new sound as an artist by working with local producers like Edsclusive, who produced Fat Joe and Remy Ma's "All the Way Up." Not long after Cool & Dre introduced him to DJ Khaled in 2015, Jones was signed to a joint venture record deal with We the Best Music Group and Epic Records. The rest is history.
The increased hype after "Don't Mind" hit No. 1 couldn't have come at a better time. With the official remix of the chart-topping single in the works, Jones is also set to contribute to DJ Khaled's forthcoming album Major Key, which drops July 29 — on the one-year anniversary of Jones' Tours mixtape. The king of Snapchat has become a big player in Jones' surge over the last year.
"Khaled is a marketing genius," Jones says of his label boss. "Khaled is a mogul. Khaled is a beast at what he does. I feel like I'm just happy to be a part of the team because when good music meets a powerful machine, there's this unstoppable force. I feel like Khaled is the mean machine, and I'm the music machine. So, we work together and that's why the impact we're having right now is so strong."
Khaled isn't the only established star who's helped bring Jones from the deep depths of Dade County to the center of the global stage. Jones will also be all over Fat Joe and Remy Ma's joint album Plata o Plomo, which is set to drop later this year. The Terror Squad chief has enlisted Jones' talents on numerous occasions, especially after he brought Jones on the 99 Jamz Uncensored stage to perform "Don't Mind." Jones says the joint album will "paint the picture of Joe and Remy's legacy." Although the first hit single, "All the Way Up," has dominated the airwaves, Jones says the song is just the tip of the iceberg of what to expect from the rest of the album.
"Man, I can't wait until the project comes out," Jones says. "'All the Way Up' is just one song off of that. Wait until you hear the next single. That's all I've got to say. That will tell everything else about the album."
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In a few short months, Kent Jones has proven he's on his way to making an international impact with his music. "Don't Mind" has already been translated into several languages, including French, Spanish, Japanese, and Haitian Creole.
As the world notes his unique rhymes and powerful stage presence, Jones plans to take advantage of the newfound international attention on his forthcoming album. There's no release date for the album just yet, but Kent guarantees it will be a "pleasurable listening experience that the fans will enjoy."
"On the album, I get to fully display who I am as an artist," he says. "My first single is a great song because it explains who I am as an artist. I'm glad that this album will give me the chance and the avenue to do so."
Kent Jones. LIV and Poplife Present P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) with Kent Jones. Wednesday, July 13, at LIV Miami at Fontainebleau, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-4680; livnightclub.com. Tickets cost $30 plus fees via flavorus.com.